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TA Sekar analyses Daredevils’ bowling

Morne can get bounce, Irfan’s strength is swing, Umesh is fast, Ajit has a good yorker

The Delhi Daredevils’ pace attack along with their explosive top-order makes them one of the most potent teams in the Karbonn Champions League Twenty20 2012. Spearheaded by Morne Morkel, they are likely to thrive in South African conditions, which are beneficial to the fast bowlers.

We caught up with team mentor TA Sekar, who has been instrumental in building the team, to get an insight into the DD pace attack and how it is being shaped.

“Kiran K Grandhi (Business Chairman, GMR Sports Pvt Ltd) gave me a freehand when I came back to the Delhi Daredevils. So I brought in KP [Kevin Pietersen] and Ross Taylor. Since Kochi Tuskers Kerala was terminated we brought in Mahela [Jayawardene]; so these three big names came in. And we took Andre Russell and Doug Bracewell and all the youngsters and whichever Indian players [we could take, but] we couldn’t do much. The team became a very strong batting line-up at the top.”

“We had Morne Morkel, Umesh Yadav, Irfan Pathan and Varun Aaron, so we thought that we had a good combination. So we picked Pawan Negi, and already we had Shahbaz Nadeem so we had two good genuine left-arm spinners. You need some big names but the Indian spinners are young and they are wanting to prove and they have the hunger in them; so I thought that will be a very good combination. Even though I don’t have a good off-spinner in my team, we have KP and Viru [Virender Sehwag] who can bowl a few overs. I changed the coach. We continued with Eric Simons. We brought in some systems and that helped the team turn around. Once you start winning, it makes the team culture look different,” he told clt20.com.

The team is a work in progress and a lot of systematic work has gone into methodically shaping the pace attack. While talking to clt20.com, TA Sekar elaborately discussed each of his pacer’s strengths and the kind of work that has been done to help them develop.
“I have been a fast bowling coach for 25 years. I have worked with Dennis Lillee at the MRF Pace Foundation for 20 years and that is helping me here. For me he is the best fast bowling coach ever. My coaching experience is helping a lot in coaching the team and handling the bowlers,” he added.

“In T20, the bowlers are very important. If they get early wickets, then you push the opponents on the back foot and then you are bound to do well and with this kind of batting definitely [we have an edge]. And that’s what we had with us. We had the Mumbai Indians all out for 92, the Chennai Super Kings all out for 110. So like that we had some very good games at the beginning of the season and that has boosted our confidence,” he observed.

Excerpts from his interview:

The DD pacers:

Morne Morkel: Basically he is rhythm bowler. He is a very difficult bowler to play because of his height. He is about 6 feet and 6 inches tall, so when he lifts his hand it nearly becomes about nine feet. From 20 yards away to see a ball is tough; and he is quick, he is a real fast bowler he bowls at 145kph comfortably, so it is quite difficult. He gets a lot of bounce of any wicket. In my opinion if he could develop a good yorker he will be a terrific bowler like a Joel Garner. He bowls yorkers, but if he bowls them consistently and confidently, it will make him a great bowler. He will become one of the greats of world cricket because he has got a very smooth run-up and a very wiry body. He is tall but not of a big make. He is very flexible and a very nice kid and willing to learn. I think he is working on his yorkers and slower ones and [once he has mastered them] he will become terrific.

Morne Morkel had a fantastic international season three months before he came in the 2012 season. He was almost heading the South African attack along with Dale Steyn. He was wanting to perform for Delhi Daredevils in India.

I told Morne Morkel to get his load up in line with the shoulder, which helped him bowl [well] in Sri Lanka. Viru [Virender Sehwag] was saying that Morne started bowling out-swingers, so that is a big improvement.

Irfan Pathan: He is a very natural and a very intelligent cricketer. His strength is swinging the ball at a good speed. He cannot reduce the speed. I don’t believe in reducing the speed to swing the ball. If you want to play international cricket, you should be around 135kph and if you swing the ball, you become more difficult. Even the best batsmen in the world find it very difficult to play swing. They can play fast bowling, but swing and speed [together] is going to be a very difficult [combination to negotiate for batsmen]. Irfan should concentrate on his swing and bowling in the right areas at a reasonably good speed 132-135kph. And his batting is good. In my opinion, he is the only all-rounder in India as of now. He can bowl and bat and win a match for the country.

I have been working with Irfan since 2002 and he was a young Under-15 bowler. I know Irfan very well. Even in 2007 when he made a comeback into the Indian team, I was working with him and since then I have been in constant touch with Irfan and that has helped me build his confidence.
Umesh Yadav: He is very strong. He is very uncomplicated and unpolluted, in the sense that he has not been coached by any one. When I first saw him in 2009, he was not coached by anyone and he took whatever I could tell him. He has worked his way up and today he knows what to do and what not to do. He has learnt that in the last couple of years. He has got that natural speed. When he runs in and bowls people don’t think he is going to bowl at 145kph so he surprises them. He will be an exciting fast bowler to come for India. He has got a lot of potential. He is not of a big make. He is strong and he is willing to learn.

When he was with DD, we brought him to South Africa in 2009 but unfortunately he developed a stress fracture. I had changed his bowling action quite a bit at the time. But since then I have been constantly watching him; we rehabilitated him when he was in Delhi and then he started playing again. After I took over we had a short three-day camp in September. I sat with him and told him the things that he needs to do so he started getting those out-swingers very well. He had a good tour to Australia and he did well in England and when he came back for IPL, he was in good rhythm.

After coming here [to South Africa] also I changed the angle of his run-up because, he was jumping out a lot and then his load up hand, bowling hand position and the front arm usage. Now he is able to do what is required. Yesterday in the nets he was coming in smoothly and was able to generate a lot of pace and he was swinging the ball away from the batsman, which is a very good sign, which he was not doing a couple of months back.

Ajit Agarkar: He is a very talented bowler and a professional. At the age of 34 he knows exactly what to do. I think he has couple of years of cricket in him at this level and later he should take up coaching. He has vast experience of playing international cricket. At a very young age he has played international cricket. He knows exactly what a bowler needs and should think.

He is a skiddy bowler and he bowls a very good Yorker. He is a good death overs bowler for us. He bowls a very good slower one, very good bouncer and he can mix them all up. He knows when to bowl what because of his experience. He is an excellent fielder and has got a very good arm. He can bat a bit. He comes as a very good package for us with his experience to bowl. Normally what happens in Twenty20 is, your best bowlers bowl in the powerplay and in the slog overs. Most of the teams have makeshift bowlers bowling in the middle, but for us Ajit Agarkar bowling in the middle overs is a big thing because then at the other end we can bowl a young bowler like [Pawan] Negi or somebody; so that is an advantage for us and these conditions help Ajit Agarkar also so he can skid the bowl much faster.

Varun Aaron: He is a talented boy; unfortunately he is going through a lot of injuries. I think he needs to remodel his action. If I am able to work with him for a month or so, I will be able to get him in good shape. I don’t know when that will come. Varun and Umesh Yadav will be a very good fast bowling pair in the future if Varun is able to prevent his injuries. He has speed and he is quiet intelligent. He can bowl yorkers and he can bowl a good bouncer. He has good variations.

The key to DD:
Our bowling is really good. So far we have done really well in batting, which is good at the top. They are very strong at the top have a very good captain in Mahela. The team has have gelled very well and we have a lot of fun. We are a very happy team and a happy team is always a winning team.

In the second part of this interview, we will share TA Sekar’s scientific approach to shaping fast bowlers. 

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